Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Canada's rogue military

Documents reveal forces' political campaign
The NDP's Dawn Black today released documents which indicate that the Canadian military prepared a draft of a speech for Afghan President Hamid Karzai which he delivered to Canada's parliament a year ago.

Canada military wrote big Karzai speech: opposition
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A speech that Afghan President Hamid Karzai delivered to Canada's Parliament a year ago, urging the country's continued military support, was nothing more than a "political stunt," written by Canadian defense ministry staff, an opposition party charged on Tuesday.

Dawn Black of the left-leaning New Democrats said the speech -- in which Karzai asked Canada to keep its soldiers in Afghanistan -- was a blatant bid by the minority Conservative government to shore up flagging support for the mission. ... (link) (See also CBC's coverage.)
The documents, obtained through access to information, are evidently situation reports sent from Kandahar to various senior Canadian officers. The smoking gun itself can be viewed here (pdf) and contains this explicit revelation:
"Team prepared initial draft of president's address to Parliament 22 Sep(tember). It was noted that key statistics, messages, themes, as well as overall structure, were adopted by the president in his remarks"...
Also note that a "communications advisor" (from the CF presumably) accompanied Karzai's delegation to New York and Ottawa last September.

Free advice
But that's not all the document says. It also notes the Strategic Advisory Team's "interaction" with the government of Afghanistan "continues with emphasis on Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice - probability of success is high." Here's what one veteran military journalist wrote about the SAT:
Consisting of 16 Canadian Forces personnel, the SAT provides what they call "capacity building" in the form of personal advisors to the cabinet ministers of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This unique project – well beyond the normal realm of military operations – was the brainchild of Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier.

"When Hillier was here in Kabul as the commander of [the International Security Assistance Force], he established a close personal relationship with Karzai," says Aubin, the deputy commander of SAT. "The idea became reality in August 2004 when Canada and Afghanistan signed a bilateral agreement." (link)
Canada as king-maker
This meddling by the CF seems to be a continuing trend. Only last week the Toronto Star reported that the forces in Kandahar have developed their own version of corporate head-hunting:
The police chief in Zhari district is on his way out, in part because of Canadian complaints about his performance.

"He was probably more part of the problem than the solution," [Colonel] Juneau said. (link)

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